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My 4 Most
[Written by Greg Kelser].
From my earliest remembrances I was always fascinated by sports and athletes. From the age of seven I knew that I wanted to play sports and eventually become a big time athlete. I enjoyed all sports and there were many athletes that I admired. I watched them on television as often as I possibly could and without a doubt these sports stars influenced my drive to follow in their footsteps.
I could easily and without hesitation rattle off 25 super athletes of my youth but I have instead decided to limit that number to the four that were my MOST influential. I would eventually meet and spend time with three of them and compete with one once I became a professional athlete.
Here are my first 2 of my 4Most;
Willie Mays… my father used to always emphasize how Mays was the complete baseball player. He could slug with power and bat for average. He could also steal bases and throughout most of his career he had no peer in centerfield.
I was always mesmerised watching him on television holding my breath every time he would come to the plate.
His career began as a member of the New York Giants and when the franchise moved to San Francisco he took ownership of west coast baseball. When he finished his career he was second on baseball’s all-time home run list at 660 trailing only Babe Ruth.
I have never met Willie Mays but when I was 13 years old my father took me to San Francisco’s Candlestick Park to see a 40 Year old future Hall of Famer smash a home run over the left field fence in a 12 inning victory over the New York Mets.
Willie is 84 years old now, more than 40 years have passed since his career ended. When I see him today at baseball events I can not help but marvel at his former athletic greatness and the magnitude of his current presence. I also smile when I think of that 1971 home run to left field that never seemed to get more than 15 feet off the ground. In some ways, I thought that shot was especially for my father and me.
Bill Russell…. Russell played a different game, one that was somewhat misunderstood during his 13 year reign in the NBA and certainly unappreciated by many today who never saw him play. I became a fan when my mother invited me to watch a Boston vs Philadelphia game when I was around eight or nine years old. She told me to pay close attention to number 6 for Boston because he is a winner.
Bill Russell dominated the game from the defensive aspect. They did not have Defensive Player of the Year trophies when he played. It’s possible that if the award had been around he may have one it every year of his career. That’s right, all 13! He made his teammates better because of his defensive presence.
Today we celebrate and make a huge deal when a player pulls down 20 rebounds in a game. It’s a rarity in today’s NBA games. Well Russell averaged 22.5 rebounds a game for his CAREER! Second chance points came at a minimum for Celtics opponents from 1957 – 1969.
Let’s talk about block shots. With all respect due to the great shot blockers we know of recent vintage, guys like Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, Mark Eaton, and Ben Wallace. Bill Russell is the greatest shot block ever in the history of the game. I once asked former Celtics teammate and Hall of Famer Tommy Heinsohn about Russell’s shot-blocking prowess. He said that if the stat for block shots were kept during Russell’s career he would have easily averaged eight to nine block shots per game.
Anyone who followed Russells career or took the time to study the NBA’s history during his time will easily discover that the only statistics that truly describe his dominance and the numbers that only really matter to Russell himself are the championships he won for the Boston Celtics. The Russell-lead Celtics won 11 NBA championships during his 13 years including eight in a row from 1959 to 1966. His last two championships in 1968 and 1969 came while he served as player/head coach.
Bill Russell is 82 years old. He retired from the NBA at age 35. I have had the pleasure of being in his company on several occasions and we have shared some great conversations. I met him for the first time when he was broadcasting one of my games when I played for the Seattle SuperSonics in the early eighties. We were playing the Bucks in Milwaukee when at some point during the game he referred to me as one of the best sixth men in the NBA. I wasn’t happy coming off the bench at that stage of my career for Seattle because I felt I deserved to be a starter but I did take a large measure of pride in having one of the greatest winners in the history of sports recognize my talent.
Stay tuned as I will bring you the final 2 of my 4Most in my next blog.
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Greg Kelser’s 32 Tips to Improved Basketball
[Written by Greg Kelser].
The following are Greg Kelser’s 32 tips to improved basketball:
1. First and foremost, you must decide that you want to improve and then commit yourself to doing all that is required. You must realize that this is a process and results are not immediate.
2. Since the game of basketball involves many different facets, decide which areas require your most immediate attention. These are the areas you will want to devote most of your concentration in the beginning.
3. Determine the progress you hope to achieve and set your goals to meet those expectations. Remember to be realistic but challenge yourself.
4. Roadwork should be part of your basketball regimen. On days that you are not playing on the court you should run on a track or treadmill. Doing it at a brisk pace helps build stamina and endurance which is essential on the basketball court.
5. A customized weight training program should also be implemented to increase strength and help limit the potential for certain nagging injuries.
6. Stretching is a key element that should proceed your workout program. Stretching will increase your flexibility and also decreases the risk of pulled muscles and other muscle strains.
7. Get used to playing the game of basketball from a flexed knee or bent knee position. Everything you do in the game of basketball begins from this position. Whether you are dribbling, rebounding, shooting, passing, or defending, all will be accomplished from this stance.
8. Become a better ballhandler. Do this by understanding the importance of keeping the ball on the finger tips of your hands and not in the palms of your hands. Start with the basketball in your right hand and dribble 25 times with your head up and ball on your finger tips times. Switch to left hand and do the same. Repeat 4 times with each hand.
9. Once you’re comfortable with the above steps, alternate the basketball from one hand to the other (crossover style) remembering to keep it on the fingertips. Keep your head and eyes up as this will allow you to become comfortable with the basketball when its time to dribble on the move. Do 4 reps of 25 dribbles.
10. Now you’re ready to advance to the two ball drill which now places a basketball in each hand. Once again with your head up and your knees flexed, dribble the ball 25 times simultaneously remembering to keep it on your fingertips and out of your palms. Dribble as deliberately as necessary to maintain control.
11. When you become comfortable and efficient with the aforementioned exercises, now it’s time to do each on the move. Same amount of dribbles, same amount of reps but start each with a slow walk. Increase your speed as you become more adjusted understanding that it is more important to move slowly and control the ball as opposed to going fast and mishandling the basketball.
Much of success for rebounding involves desire, determination, & a consistent effort to go to the glass. After that, leverage, blocking out, and quickness to the basketball are all key elements.
12. Basic rebounding should always be done by using two hands. The use of two hands ensures control of the basketball even with your opponents slapping at the ball in the attempt to strip it away. To become comfortable with two handed rebounding simply take a basketball and toss it against the backboard. As it carroms off the glass jump from your flexed knee position and grab the ball with two hands. Do this on either side of the basket 20 times each then repeat. While this will encourage two-handed rebounding it will also increase stamina and strength in your legs.
13. Now that you’re comfortable snaring your rebounds with 2 hands, let’s work on offensive rebounding. You will do the same drill of tossing the ball against the backboard and jumping from your flex position to rebound it. This time however, you will take the ball back up immediately and score the basket. Do this exercise 10 times on each side of the basket. If you have a partner working with you feel free to have him stand next to you as you’re rebounding to bump you as you’re attempting your put back. This will allow you to get used to the contact thats common under the rim.
14. The best rebounders are not necessarily the highest jumpers. As I stated earlier, determination and desire often wins this battle but staying active on the glass is very important. The ability to be able to do multiple jumps as if you were on a pogo stick will help increase your rebound total. Jumping rope will improve your multiple jumping capacity. So get out your jump rope in give me 50. Once done, drop the rope and continuing jumping with both arms extended above your head. Four sets of 10 should do the job nicely in terms of increasing your multiple jumping ability.
Repetition is a very important factor in becoming a good shooter. Knowing your range and where you can be most effective in the offensive area is the key to becoming a high percentage shooter. You will want to be able to achieve success has both a spot up shooter and and off the dribble shooter.
15.The George Mikan drill is almost as old is the game itself but it is a perfect tool for beginning your shooting practice. It will also help build confidence in shooting with your off-hand. Simply start by shooting the ball with your strong hand from underneath the basket and as it comes out of the net swing to the opposite side of the basket and use your other hand. Continue this back and forth routine until you have completed 15 shots per hand. Try not to let the basketball hit the floor. Repeat this exercise and once completed you are now ready to move into other shooting areas.
16. As a spot up shooter you choose 5 spots around the basket, usually 15 to 18 feet away. Shoot and advance to the next spot but only after making two in a row at each position. If you have a partner, he can rebound and feed the ball to you from each spot but you must catch and shoot without the dribble. Chart your progress to see how many shots it takes before making a total of 10 consecutive baskets, 2 from each spot.
17. Now you will do the exact same thing but this time you’ll shoot from each spot coming off the dribble. For this exercise, stand far enough away from your spot so that you can apply 2 hard dribbles to your spot where you will now elevate and shoot a jump shot. This exercise will help you to become comfortable freeing your own self for a shot. You will work up a good sweat with this drill on your way to making 10 consecutive baskets but it also builds leg strength and increases stamina.
18.To become a complete offensive threat shooting the basketball you also need to be able to move without the basketball and work of screens. You can use chairs or cones placing them at various spots in the offensive area. Now with your practice partner , imagine coming off of those objects as if they were screens ready to shoot the basketball. Remember, your movement is for the purpose of getting open to receive the basketball . Therefore make your cuts with precision and energy. First to 20 made shots wins this phase of the exercise.
19. Now you will look to make your same moves without the basketball, coming around your screens to catch and drive. Remember your flexed knee position. This is how you will receive the basketball. This will put you in an immediate “triple threat position” whereby on the catch you are now able to either drive, pass, or shoot the basketball. Practice catching and driving hard to the hoop finishing with your right hand. Make 10 layups and repeat making 10 drives to the basket for10 left handed layups.
20. Don’t forget your series of post moves. This will be where you position yourself on the low box on both sides of the lane and work from me back to the basket position. From this low position you will practice the turnaround jumper, baby hook shot and drop step. With your hook shot, practice using both hands. It is very important especially close to the basket to be able to use your off-hand to convert baskets and possibly get to the free throw line if fouled.
21. Now comes the part of shooting the basketball that is the most fun. This is where you get to engage your practice partner in games of one on one. I used to play a lot of one on one because I felt it really increased my ability to create my own shots. Playing one on one teaches you the ability to counter the defensive strategy being played on you almost subconsciously. It forces you to react instinctively and on the move. If you have enough stamina left, play 5 baskets in a best of 7 series
22. Before you’re done shooting for the day you must spend time at the free throw line. Making free throws is one of the forgotten fundamentals at all levels of basketball. Challenge yourself to shoot at least 100 free throws before you conclude your shooting program. Your overall goal is to increase your shooting percentage.
Catching and passing the basketball are critical fundamentals to offensive basketball. Many of the shooting drills that involves two people will provide many opportunities to work on both passing and catching.
23. Regardless of one”s experience in the game of basketball it is always important to see the ball into your hands and catch it securely. Practice this with a partner or toss the basketball off the backboard . As it is coming back to you make sure to see it onto your fingertips and secure the ball safely. Just as 2 baseball players warm up their arms by simply tossing the ball back and forth to each other, this is a valuable exercise in basketball because it conditions the hand eye coordination helpful in preventing bobbled passes.
24. Now go through the series of passes back and forth with your partner. Start with the chest pass, followed by the bounce pass. Make sure that your passes are easy to handle. Usually passes are better and easily handled if they are between the numbers on the uniform and the waist area. Now increase the distance between you and your passing partner for the last two series of passes. First, the overhead pass whereby you will extend the basketball over your head and pass it from that position to your partner. This is key in making outlet passes after rebounds or cross-court passes in a half court offensive set. Finally, you will practice the baseball pass. This past is executed the same way you would toss a baseball. This pass is useful in making long passes up to court during the fast break.
26. Let’s now get on the move again. With your partner stand on one baseline separated by 15 to 20 feet. Now sprint to the other in of the court using the chest past back and forth and finish with the layup. Since you are using the chest pass, the ball should not touch the floor. Now come back in the opposite direction with the same spacing and use the bounce pass. Finish with the layup . Do this until you have made a total of 10 lay layups without a single mishandling of the basketball.
27. Time now to take your overhead and baseball passes the length of the court. Execute this part of the program by standing on the baseline while your partner is at midcourt. First, past the basketball to him using the overhead pass. Now sprint to the far end of the court while he returns an overhead pass to you for the layup. Now do the exact same thing utilizing the baseball pass. Switch up and continue this exercise until 10 layups have been completed without a single mishandling of the basketball.
Becoming a solid defensive player takes tremendous effort and discipline. Is one of the hardest phases of the game because it is done as a reaction to some other cause. Good defense can also be difficult to measure. Imagine holding your opponent to 30 points. You may not consider that to be a very good defensive job but if that player is Michael Jordan, your effort gets applauded.
28. To work on your defensive footwork and speed, begin by getting into your flexed knee position with your feet spaced just outside of your hips. While standing in place begin to shuffle your feet. Be sure to keep your hands active by waving them around as if flicking at the ball in your opponent’s hands. Do this in five 30 second intervals. It builds stamina and endurance along with increased foot speed.
29. Once you have collected your breath, return to your defensive stance with your flexed knees. It’s time now to get on the move again. Starting on one side of the key , move laterally from side to side across the lane using your defensive shuffle . Continue this procedure for five 30 seconds intervals.
30. Now with your practice partner on offense you will play defense . The offensive player will begin on one baseline and dribble in a diagonal pattern to the other baseline crossing over every 4 to 5 dribbles. Your job as the defender is to use your defensive shuffles to stay on the ball side. You’re not trying to steal the ball but your hands will remain active. While you are defending, your partner is working on his ball handling skills therefore a dual-purpose is being accomplished. Switch and continue this drill until each of you have completed 10 reps as a defender. This exercise will help to increase your effectiveness as an on the ball defender.
31. You may end your practice with another game of one on one to 11 baskets. In this game try to incorporate all the fundamentals that you have worked on previously including ball handling, shooting, rebounding, and defending. When the chance comes to play in a game with 10 players on the floor , you will want to remember that everything you’re doing on the court is for the purpose of improving your fundamentals. It is crucial that you play hard, play with energy, and play with purpose.
32. If you are truly going to be serious in maintaining your practice regimen, you will need substantial nutrition and rest. Make sure both are part of your everyday routine. Try to eat well and avoid unhealthy fast foods as much as possible. Getting your proper amount of sleep will help assure the stamina and energy necessary to accomplish your routine each and every time. Becoming a better basketball player does not happen by chance or accident. No matter how talented, hard work is often the difference between average and very good players. You control how determined you are, how hard you work, and the amount of sacrifice you’re willing to endure in the pursuit of your goals.
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Hoop It Up
Basketball’s popularity is exploding!
An estimated 30 million American kids 7 years of age and older play. Over one million boys and girls participate at the high school level. The NBA All Star game and annual NCAA Basketball Tournament continue to attract a record number of television viewers. More families are investing in portable or permanent home basketball systems to add to their quality time together — perhaps during stay-at-home vacations. Drive down any street in America and you’ll see entire families hooping it up.
If you and your family are investing in a home basketball system, the type you choose should depend on where you plan to install it, how frequently you plan to use it, and if you’ll use it for light practicing or for serious games.
Both permanent and portable basketball systems require ample room to enjoy the game. If you have plenty of room and level pavement at the end of a driveway, a permanent system might be the smart choice for you. It will require more effort to set up and install, but offer more stability than most portable systems. If you’re pressed for room, currently renting or leasing a home, or if you’re only an occasional player, a portable unit might be a smart choice. The entire system can be quickly wheeled away until you want to use it again and easily moved to your next home.
How frequently you play can help determine the stability, strength and durability of the system you need. When properly installed, permanent systems anchored to the ground offer the best stability. The base of most portable systems can be filled with water or sand for stability while you play. One or two-piece poles offer the greatest strength. Square poles are more rigid and stronger than round poles. Most permanent and portable systems are also height adjustable. Look for a system that offers infinite high adjustments rather than only two or three different fixed height settings. Also look for poles, brackets and quality hardware designed to resist rust and corrosion.
Whether you use your system for light practice or for serious games can help determine what size backboard, what backboard construction and what type of rim to choose. NBA backboards measure 72 inches wide and 42 inches high. Permanent and portable systems with 60-inch and 54-inch glass or acrylic backboards offer great playability. High-strength composite backboards are also available in a variety of sizes and styles. Tempered glass boards offer a pro-style look and feel with truer rebounds. Acrylic boards are more affordable but less durable in extreme weather conditions. Spring-loaded breakaway rims really don’t breakaway. They bend or flex to help prevent the rim from breaking when a player dunks the ball or hangs off the rim. Some flex only at the front. Others flex at the front and side. Look for a rim that matches your personal playing style.
Rolled onto the driveway or anchored into the ground; for light practice or a serious game; with a glass, acrylic or composite board. Whichever permanent or portable basketball systems you choose, be sure to hoop it up with your family and friends whenever you can.
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